The recent addition of Robbie Farah and Moses Mbye to the Wests Tigers was not enough to put the Gold Coast Titans off their game as they defied sentiment and a sold-out Leichhardt Oval crowd to win 30-12 on Sunday.
Both sides needed the win to keep in touch with the top-eight. The two points that went the way of the Titans saw them draw level with Canberra and the Wests Tigers on 14 points in a share of ninth spot. More pertinently, that trio of teams is now three wins adrift of the eighth-placed Broncos.
The Tigers threw everything at the visitors. Mbye made 187 metres from 18 runs, while Farah had two gigantic line breaks to get everyone's blood pumping. He finished with 125 metres out of dummy-half.
But 18 errors combined with an 80-metre try by winger Anthony Don (69th minute) and a late four-pointer from Jai Arrow (77th) resulted in the Titans consigning Ivan Cleary's men to a fourth straight loss.
Match: Wests Tigers v Titans
Round 16 -
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
Mbye was playing the Titans for a second straight match. His last game for the Bulldogs was the heavy 32-10 loss to the Gold Coast at Belmore Oval. He signed with the Tigers the following week.
It was Mbye's first game in Tigers colours; Farah's return game to Tiger-land; Josh Reynolds' first try at Leichhardt Oval; and Chris McQueen's second NRL game with the Tigers after being one of their big off-season buys.
Farah brought the crowd to their feet several times, starting when he first ran out of the tunnel. His charge run down the eastern sideline early in the second half had the hill upstanding. It didn't lead to a try but it got every Tigers fan thinking how nice it was to have the veteran hooker back.
Reynolds' superb solo try in the first half down that same side of the ground did result in four points. Everyone is glad he came to Concord as well, even though it was only his fifth game because of hamstring and shoulder injuries.
He actually hurt his left shoulder scoring that try and although he favoured it at times, he finished the match.
It was tit-for-tat tries in the first half with scored being locked together 6-6 and then 12-12.
Reynolds finishes off great Tigers try
The Tigers tries were the more spectacular – a 60-metre dash from Fiji captain Kevin Naiqama (14th minute) and then a stepping, weaving Reynolds over 55 metres in the 23rd.
Things didn't go well for the Titans early. First Taylor was denied a 40/20 in the 6th minute and then two of his passes went to ground, jolted from his grasp by heavy contact.
Winger Anthony Don lost control of the ball near the south-west corner post, and a pass from Jarrod Wallace, who had broken the line, was around Jai Arrow's ankles with the line open.
But the visitors made use of limited visits to the Tigers 20-metre line and scored two tries – Ryan James barging over one pass off the ruck in the 20th minute and then a nice show-and-go from Taylor in the 30th.
However, if coach Garth Brennan has taught his players one thing, it is courage under fire. And with the help of numerous Tigers errors, the combination worked a treat.
News & Notes: Michael Chee Kam was placed on report for an alleged crusher tackle on Dale Copley ... Elijah Taylor went off for an HIA in 36th-minute but returned in the second half ... Titans prop Ryan James scored his fourth try in three games...Tigers centre Kevin Naiqama scored his 10th try in the 11 past games he's played at Leichhardt ... Tigers have the bye next weekend, while Titans are at home to take on big brothers Brisbane...Crowd: 16,984